Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Why Is Hyperpigmentation So Hard To Get Rid Of? June 23, 2016

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One of the more difficult skincare problems to solve is hyperpigmentation or dark spots on your skin.  This is also a very prevalent skincare issue that affects people of all skin tones.   Just where do these frustrating spots come from and how can you get rid of them for good? In this post I want to give you some insight into what causes hyperpigmentation in the first place and how to combat it effectively.

How Does Hyperpigmentation Form?

There are a few different types of hyperpigmentation or dark (brown) spots that can form on the skin.  You can get hyperpigmentation from the sun, from hormones, or as a result of an injury to the skin.  This last type of hyperpigmentation includes the marks that show up on the skin after a pimple heals.  (Please keep in mind that while many people call the red or brown marks that are left on the skin after a breakout heals “acne scars” they are definitely not scars but rather hyperpigmentation)   Certain ethnicities are more prone to hyperpigmentation than others.  Interestingly enough the treatment for hyperpigmentation is the same no matter its source.

I’ve been having an internal debate how technical I should be in explaining how hyperpigmentation forms because it is easy to get very lost among the scientific terms and processes that occur in the skin.  I also feel that such an explanation can be a bit overwhelming for non-science people (I include myself in that category).

I decided to take a middle of the road approach in my explanation.  Here it goes.  Your epidermis (the top layer of your skin) contains melanocytes which produce melanin. Melanin determines your skin color and tone. Everyone has the same number of melanocyctes in their skin; your skin color is determined by the amount of melanin activated in the skin.  Melanin is also the pigment that protects your skin from UV rays.  So when your skin experiences excessive sun exposure or prolonged sun exposure year after year, day after day more melanin is produced in order to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays.  A tan is actually a sign of your skin’s “self defense” mechanism kicking into gear.  Sorry to say but with every tan you get you’ve done damage to your skin. Dark spots from the sun can show up in a cluster on one area of your face, perhaps on the side of your face that is exposed to a window in your office or while driving, and can take years to appear after the initial damage has been done to your skin.  Many times as an esthetician I find it hard to convince people to use sunscreen on a daily basis simply because the damage daily sun exposure is doing to their skin is not evident at first.  It can be hard to for people to realize that they need sunscreen everyday when the damage they will see from the sun will only show up 10, 20 years later.  So please remember to apply sunscreen daily in order to prevent hyperpigmentation in the future.

Melasma is the hormonal hyperpigmentation.  Many women develop this type of hyperpigmentation during and after a pregnancy or from using birth control pills.  The hormonal changes that are going on in your body due to pregnancy or the use of birth control pills cause this type of hyperpigmentation to form though exactly what doctors are still not entirely sure.  Sun exposure can make melasma worse. Some lucky women may find that their dark spots fade a bit after giving birth, but for many women this type of hyperpigmentation is an unhappy side effect from a happy life event.

Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation is the red, brown, or even yellow marks that are left on the skin after an injury to the skin or after a breakout has healed. Once again as a defense mechanism, in this case a defense against skin inflammation, the body produces extra melanin.  If there is one positive from this type of hyperpigmentation it is usually the easiest kind to get rid of.

Treatment

First of all it is important to keep something in mind when treating hyperpigmentation – there are no quick fixes for this skin care problem.  You need time, patience, and the daily use of skin care products in order to get rid of hyperpigmentation.  If you have had a dark spot on your face for 6 years you cannot expect it to disappear in just a month.  When I say patience I really mean it.  You need to religiously use the right skin care products at home in order to eventually see results months down the road.  Once hyperpigmentation occurs, with the exception of red marks (and some types of brown marks) left on the skin after breakouts heal, your dark spots have no real desire to go anywhere.  If anyone promises you a miracle cure for hyperpigmentation run in the opposite direction.  Also please don’t put lemon juice all over your face and go out in the sun expecting to fade dark spots.  No matter how many times this skincare hack appears in your Pinterest feed you need to ignore it.  You’ll just end up making your skin more sensitive or even causing burns instead of helping your skin if you follow this “tip”.

One of the reasons hyperpigmentation is so hard to get rid of is because you actually have to treat your skin in two different ways at the same time in order to lighten dark spots.  Though the skincare industry is constantly changing and innovating at the moment the accepted way to treat hyperpigmentation is to shutdown or suppress the production of new melanin, prevent the transfer of new melanin to the melanocyctes, and remove the existing dark spots.  This requires a combination of products to achieve; there is currently no one product on the market that can do all three of these things.  Usually hyperpigmentation is treated with one product that supresses melanin production and another product that brings excess melanin to the surface of the skin and then helps it flake off.

In the United States one of the more prevalent skincare ingredients used to treat hyperpigmentation effectively is hydroquinone.  Hydroquinone is controversial for a few different reasons and has been replaced by a host of other ingredients to brighten dark spots because of the controversy surrounding it.  In order to better understand the controversy about hydroquinone I suggest reading Dr. Leslie Baumann’s article that I have listed below in “sources and further reading”.  There is a lot of misinformation circulating about hydroquinone so be sure to educate yourself on this topic before buying into the anti-hydroquinone hype.

Other skincare ingredients that can help treat hyperpigmentation are:  Vitamin C, kojic acid, licorice, arbutin, and azelaic acid.   A product with one or more of these ingredients is best paired with a retinol (or prescription Retin-A) for best results.  You can also use a product that brightens dark spots in conjunction with an AHA exfoliator though keep in mind a strong exfoliator can actually make hyperpigmentation worse or even cause hyperpigmentation for people with sensitive.  When in doubt see a professional in order to create the perfect skincare regime for your skin.  And above all, apply a generous amount of sunscreen each and everyday!  Use at least SPF 30 and make sure your sunscreen protects from both UVA and UVB rays.  Don’t think that your make-up with SPF is giving you enough sun protection because you’ll never apply enough make-up in order to reach the amount of SPF listed on the product.  So be sure to always apply a sunscreen first and then your moisturizer and make-up.

Other Treatment Options

If you have the money for more expensive in-office treatments getting laser treatments from a dermatologist should produce faster results than using just home care products to treat your hyperpigmentation.  Of course you’ll get the best results from a laser treatment if you take proper care of your skin both before and after the treatment.  Follow the advice the doctor or their esthetician gives you; if they don’t give you any before and after advice go to another office.

You can also see an esthetician or dermatologist for a series of chemical peels that coupled with the correct home care regime can help get rid of hyperpigmentation once again faster than if you were just using products at home.  Just as you need a good home care skincare regime before and after a laser treatment in order to get the best results you need to do the same with a chemical peel.

Sources and Further Reading:

My Related Posts:

 

 

Wrinkles and Pimples At The Same Time: Solutions May 5, 2014

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This post was inspired by something I saw on Facebook.  The reality for many women is just as they start to see wrinkles on their skin (perhaps around the eyes or on the forehead for example) they still get an occasional pimple.  This can be both frustrating and confusing.  Yet it isn’t so difficult to find one solution for both skincare issues.

I would like to point out that the skincare phenomena I am writing about here is not adult acne.  While adult acne is definitely on the rise, I am referring here to people who are probably in their late 30s, early 40s and are starting to see the emergence of fine lines while still occasionally experiencing breakouts (for women perhaps around the time they get their period).  This is also different from women who are undergoing menopause and find that they are all of a sudden breaking out.  I’ve blogged about both adult acne and menopause’s effects on the skin in the past.  Those posts are listed below if you would like to look at them.

In my opinion what is happening here is simple: you are starting to see fine lines because sun damage from years before is now becoming visible, and you are still experiencing an occasional breakout because of your hormones (especially those related to your period) and/or stress.  Just as I see the cause of this skincare issue as fairly straightforward so is, in my opinion, the solution: add a retinol cream to your skincare regime at night, make sure you use sunscreen daily, and use an antioxidant serum every day.  Be sure not to go overboard in order to improve the appearance of your skin.  Do not start using anti-acne products meant for teenagers such as Stridex or Clean & Clear.  These products will be much too harsh for pretty much anyone who isn’t a teenager anymore.

Retinol is the ideal skincare ingredient for people experiencing both fine lines and an occasional breakout because it can treat both issues simultaneously.  I’ve written about retinol and Retin-A before in my blog (you can find the posts below), but I’ll explain again why this is a great skincare ingredient.  As Lab Muffin explains in the post Fact-Check Friday: What Does Retinol Do? :

Retinol is a form of vitamin A. Other forms of vitamin A in skincare that you may be familiar with include isotretinoin (better known as Accutane) and retinyl palmitate (another topical ingredient found in many creams).

Things retinol can help:

– fine lines and wrinkles
– skin roughness and dullness
– skin firmness
– pigmentation from age spots
– acne

Retinoids are skin cell normalizers so that means that they speed up skin cell turn-over which will help clear up breakouts, and retinoids help rebuild collagen so they will minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time. As such adding a retinol product to your skincare regime is the perfect solution for both fine lines and breakouts.

Just keep a few things in mind when using retinoids (I’m quoting Lab Muffin again):

Retinols can be irritating to the skin, and cause dehydration. To reduce the chances of this happening, you should introduce it into your routine slowly (don’t use it every day to begin with), and use extra hydrating moisturisers.

Retinol breaks down with exposure to light and air. Pick a retinol product in an airtight, opaque container to improve its shelf life.

Using retinol with other excellent skin treatments like AHAs and vitamin C can speed up the skin renewal process, fading hyperpigmentation and wrinkles faster. However, the activation of retinol by skin enzymes is optimal at a higher pH (5.5-6) than the pH for AHAs (3.5). While there isn’t much research on how quickly the pH of skin readjusts itself, waiting an hour or so in between applying the two is a safe bet, or even using one in the morning and one in the evening.

Retinol, much like AHAs, can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn. Wear extra sunscreen when you use retinol so you don’t completely reverse its beneficial effects!

Lastly, keep in mind that you cannot use Retin-A or retinols when pregnant or nursing.

 

So how would this anti-aging, anti-acne skincare regime look?  I suggest cleansing twice daily with a mild cleanser, applying an antioxidant serum in the morning (such as a Vitamin C serum in order to boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen, further prevent the signs of aging, protect your skin from inflammation), and then using a sunscreen with a spf between 30 to 50 (you can also use a separate moisturizer before your sunscreen if you feel your skin needs it).  In the evening after cleansing apply a retinol cream followed by a moisturizer.  Pretty simple, right?

 

Recommended Products:

  • While I am not familiar with all the recommended products in this article I like the approach of this skincare regime since the recommended products are not too harsh.  Remember there is no need to buy just anti-acne products if you only experience an occasional breakout.
  • Cleanser:  I suggest using a mild cleanser such as CeraVe or even Cetaphil.  You don’t need to use an anti-acne cleanser.  That would be overkill for most people.
  • Antioxidant serum:  See my previous posts below for more information about why you want to use an antioxidant serum and in particular a Vitamin C serum.  There are quite a few good (and even great) Vitamin C serums out there, but at the moment my recommendation is to buy one from South Korea.  OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum is excellent and super affordable (even when you factor in the shipping costs). I am using it now and love it.
  • Moisturizers and Sunscreens:  Choose your products according to your skincare needs and the weather in the area you live in.  Some people may need a richer moisturizer and others not so much especially if you live in a humid climate.  Now that Target is selling some of my favorite skincare lines making them accessible to all I would recommend Laneige Water Sleeping Mask as a moisturizer (don’t be put off by the name; it’s a moisturizer), particularly as a nighttime one, and any La Roche-Posay sunscreen, particularly Anthelios Ultra Light spf 60.
  • Retinol Creams or Serums:  There are also numerous retinol products on the market including ones from Roc and Neutrogena, but for my money I would try either La Roche-Posay Effaclar K Daily Renovating Acne Treatment (if you have blackheads and more than just the occasional breakout) or La Roche-Posay Redermic R (if you only have an occasional breakout).

Further Reading:

 

Wrinkles: What They Are Exactly and What Causes Them March 27, 2014

Filed under: Aging,beauty — askanesthetician @ 12:35 pm
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In anticipation of moving very soon I’ve been trying to go through different parts of my home and get rid of everything I don’t need.  I am a hoarder.  No, not the kind that you see on one of those reality shows that can’t walk through their home because of the vast accumulation of things, but the more subtle kind that saves articles, refuses to donate clothes she hasn’t worn in years, and somehow has collected seven blank, decorative notebooks over the years (in my defense all those blank notebooks were gifts).  It is really time that I move without taking things with me that I will never look at or use again.  So this week I went through all the esthetics related materials that I had at home and discovered articles that I had saved from years ago.  I looked things over, I evaluated if I really needed to save the information, and some of the articles I actually found online so I pinned them onto my skincare board on Pinterest.  Though Pinterest has indeed revolutionized the way I save information for future reference (and no I don’t think using the word revolutionized is too dramatic) not all the esthetics related material I read online can be pinned.  So sad.  So I still have a binder with articles, but at least the binder is now very organized.

One article that I saved was from Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Skin Type Solutions website entitled The Anatomy of a Wrinkle.  The article succinctly explains how wrinkles form and what factors contribute to the formation of wrinkles:

… all wrinkles are caused by the same chain of events within the skin.  Age causes uppermost epidermal cells to get thinner and less sticky, which allows moisture to seep out in turn making skin drier.  Oil glands begin to slow down, which contributes to dryness as well.  A bit deeper in the skin, supportive scaffolding (i.e. collagen and elastin) breaks down, and skin loses its smoothness and tautness – leaving it no other choice than to wrinkle and sag.  In the skin’s lowest layer, the subcutaneous layer, fat cells begin to shrink, so they are less able to “fill in” or plump out damage in the skin’s other layers.

And what factors can contribute to the formation of wrinkles?  Dr. Baumann explains:

Sun exposure:  The damage caused by UV rays does a number on our skin’s supportive matrix, mainly collagen and elastin.  Think about it … wrinkles appear on the face, neck, chest, backs of the hands and forearms – all places that are most frequently exposed to the sun.

Facial expressions: You know what happens when you fold a piece of paper too many times?  A line becomes etched and it’s impossible to smooth out.  That’s exactly what happens in areas of the face that are responsible for facial expressions.  This is why the areas around the eyes and lips and on the forehead are often the first to show wrinkles.

Skin color:  Pigment plays a protective role, so those with lighter skin have less natural defense against damaging UV light.  Conversely, darker skins usually show wrinkling much later in life, and they have their melanin to thank for that.

Genetics:  As with many other beauty and health concerns, your DNA dictates how wrinkly your skin will get.  If your mom looked great well into her 60s, it’s possible you will, too, as long as you’re not baking in the sun every chance you get.

Now what is the best way to prevent wrinkles and/or treat them?  Dr. Baumann recommends the daily use of sunscreen to prevent wrinkles and retinoids if you already have wrinkles.  To those recommendations I would recommend following anti-inflammation diet and incorporating antioxidant serum, such as a Vitamin C serum, into your daily skincare routine.

One more thing – another thing about looking through things you’ve saved is discovering that you have already used the above mentioned article in a post.  I briefly toyed with the idea of just updating the old post (it is almost three years old), but in the spirit of “out with the old, in with the new” I wrote this new post instead.

My Related Posts: 

Image from laserskinsolutions.com

 

Anti-Aging Musts April 5, 2012

Creating an anti-aging skincare routine isn’t all that hard. If you keep a few key things in mind you’ll help your skin look great now and into the future.

Though I don’t advocate going crazy with anti-aging treatments when you are in your 20s do start thinking at that time about protecting your skin. As the Web MD article 10 Ways to Slow the Aging Process explains:

Think the early twenties is too soon to see signs of aging skin? Dermatologists see them commonly.

“The earliest signs of aging really start around the eyes. You can start to see some fine lines, and then on the face in general, some broken blood vessels and sun spots,” says Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. Typically, the more sun exposure, the greater the damage, she says.

Fortunately, the twenties and thirties are also prime decades for women to learn how to counter sun damage and other factors that age the skin, says Heidi Waldorf, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is also director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“What you do for your skin or against your skin will have ramifications as you age,” she says.

First, younger women must understand the pitfalls. For instance, Waldorf sees many who still embrace tanning. Often, they wrongly believe that skin aging is something to worry about down the road, not in their youth, Waldorf says.

Another common habit that damages young skin: smoking.

Ok so the article already mentioned two of the big no nos – sun and smoking. Here are more tips about those and other anti-aging musts:

  • Use sunscreen daily, even when it is overcast outside. When spending the day outside wear a hat and sunglasses, and reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours when spending the day outdoors. Don’t forget that you get lots and lots of sun exposure even when you are going about your normal daily activities like driving, walking around the neighborhood, sitting by a window, and running errands.
  • Don’t smoke – smoking ruins your skin is so many ways. See my post below for more information about smoking and your skin.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle – exercise, practice relaxation techniques, and eat right. When you take good care of yourself it shows in your skin.
  • Use skincare products with antioxidants in them to protect your skin from pollution, free radicals, and the sun.
  • Use a retinol or prescription Retin-A skincare product starting in your 30s in order to correct skin damage, smooth your skin, build collagen, and treat acne (if you need to).

My Related Posts:

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from hghwatch.com

 

What Is Dermal Micro Needling? March 12, 2012

Ever feel like the universe is looking out for you?  I know that may seem like an exaggeration, and I would agree, but I found it interesting that just as I was starting to research this blog post, and failing to find real, scientific information about dermal micro needling, I discovered that the there was a great article on the subject in the February issue of Les Nouvelles Esthetiques and Spa A Collagen Boosting Alternative: Dermal Micro Needling.  Not only did I come across the article I just mentioned pretty soon after coming across that article I was finding articles about micro needling from legitimate sources in different places.  So with the help of these articles let’s jump right into the whole subject of micro needling.

 

All About Dermal Micro Needling

According to the article from LNE & Spa:

The principle of skin needling is to stimulate the body’s own production of collagen.  DMN involves the use of a sterile roller, comprised of a series of fine, sharp needles to puncture the skin.  Medical needling is performed under a local anesthetic; the needling device is “rolled” over the surface of the face to create many microscopic channels deep into the dermis of the skin, which stimulates your own body to produce new collagen.  At a microscopic level, proliferated skin cells, such as fibroblasts, migrate to the point of injury and transform into collagen fibers, resulting in increased fiber strength and elasticity.  This treatment improves your skin by increasing production of collagen, facilitating natural repair and growth and making the skin stronger and thicker.  The new collagen fills depressed scars and wrinkles from the bottom up, lifting the depression so they are level with the surrounding skin.  This process takes two to three months to produce visible results, and can also help thicken thinner, fine skin types.

There are a few different type of dermal rollers, which is what the dermal micro needling devices are called.  The ones designed to be used at home have shorter needles than those used by physicians.  Dermal micro needling can be combined with other skincare treatments and products in order to enhance the collagen building results.  Additionally, the procedure can be used on all skin types.  The side effects are mainly varying degrees of redness; the amount of redness depends on how long the needles used were and how deeply they entered the skin.  Potential complications can arise if the healing skin isn’t cared for properly.  Those complications can be infection, scarring, an outbreak of cold sores if you are prone to getting them, and even post inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can last up to 12 months.   Proper care after treatment involves the use of healing creams or ointments along with a broad spectrum spf for the first day or two after the treatment.  Depending on what you want to fix about your skin you may need between 3 to 8 treatments spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart.

 Yes or No?

To quote the article, again, from LNE & Spa:

DMN has been used successfully to treat fine lines, wrinkles, lax and sun damaged skin to reduce the appearance of stretch marks; improve acne ice pick scars; and induce hair’s regrowth.  It has also been used to tighten skin after liposuction.  The advantages of this procedure are that the skin becomes thicker, with an increase in collagen deposition exceeding more than 400 percent.

But for all this positive talk about DMN there are naysayers as well.  On About.com they have this to say about DMN:

Does It Really Work?

Depends on who you ask. Personally, I’ve seen some pretty dramatic before and after photos – so dramatic, in fact, they made me even more skeptical than before. However, there have been a few scientific studies showing micro-needling to be effective in the treatment of scars. On the other hand, I have seen TV interviews with doctors who have seemed  to be saying that its real value lies in its mechanical exfoliation action on the skin. In researching how it works, it seems like it certainly could be effective for at least some of the conditions it claims to treat. However, I also believe that only time will tell just how effective it is, and whether or not it’s worth it.

Furthermore, according to Annet King in her article for The International Dermal Institute Skin Needling: Hurting or Helping? – there are a lot of variables that one has to keep in mind when considering dermal micro needling:

Effects on the Skin: Medical vs. Skin care
Most of the claims about wrinkle reduction and new collagen growth come from the manufacturers of the rollers or those members of the medical community who are associated (remunerated) by those companies. What’s important to keep in mind is that in most cases, patients in the study also used a topical Retinoic Acid or Retinol based product in conjunction with the skin needling. However some independent dermatologists do claim to see positive scar reduction outcomes in their patients, and another upside is that it does offer a cost effective alternative to fractional laser resurfacing. In general, skin needling is a long term commitment of 1-2yrs of combined in office and at home treatment.

The effects of skin needling differ according to needle gauge, length and the manual pressure that’s used with the roller. Therefore the level of skin invasion and subsequent inflammation on the skin can vary from gentle stimulation to piercing the skin and drawing fluids, i.e. blood and lymph. With the variances of effects skin needling rollers can have, most devices are disposed of in the appropriate biohazard container or are properly sanitized and given directly to the same client for at home use. Whichever method is observed, it is important that correct sanitation measures are followed to prevent the chance of cross contamination from occurring. As with many methods, it’s vital to respect the boundaries of medical, professional, and at-home tools, and skin benefits shouldn’t be confused. Dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and crystal-containing scrubs come to mind! The marketing hype can baffle the end user and incense the professional!

Different Needles Different Outcomes
A roller with wide gauge, short length needles that are under 0.25mm in length is generally non-invasive and cannot cause trauma to the skin, but rather it stimulates and provides gentle exfoliation while increasing superficial circulation. This action, much like manual massage and other electrical modalities, may enhance the penetration and absorption of active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin. Therefore, additional age fighting skin benefits can be achieved when skin needling is combined with products that contain collagen boosting and skin fortifying ingredients like Retinol, Vitamin C and Peptides.

The longer, thinner needles around 1.0mm or 1.5mm in length are more hazardous; the potential for breaking the skin, drawing fluids, causing injury and subsequent risk of infection is much higher. Extreme caution must be used as this is considered highly invasive and high risk. It may also be beyond a skin therapist’s legal scope of practice. Therefore, this procedure is best conducted under medical supervision as adverse reactions and post procedure complications can occur. When the barrier of the skin is compromised to this degree, bacterial skin infections, adverse skin reactions, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and premature aging (due to inflammatory mediators being drawn to the area) can result. Products that are calming and anti-inflammatory would be ideal to soothe any inflammation post needling, and for pre-care the most important aspect is that the skin is thoroughly clean to prevent any possibly risk of infection.

In my opinion the jury is definitely still out on this skin treatment.  I would like to see more real scientific research done on the subject before offering a concrete opinion if this is a skincare treatment to pursue.  If you are an esthetician who does micro needling I would love for you to comment below, and if you have tried micro needling please comment below as well.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from Derma-Rollers.com

 

Acupuncture Facelifts – Do They Really Work? January 5, 2012

In the quest to look younger many women turn to surgery, skincare products, and injections.  I’m all for looking your best because when you feel that you look good those positive feelings radiate out into the rest of your life.  The traditional Western ways to stay looking young involve injectable fillers, Botox, and even cosmetic surgery but it turns out that there are other ways to look younger such as trying facial acupuncture.

Personally, I am a very strong believer in acupuncture.  I have been going regularly to an acupuncturist for over a year and a half and love it.  I love acupuncture because it helps me with stress relief, PMS relief, and overall well-being.  Also acupuncture treats the body as a whole and does not separate emotional wellbeing from physical wellbeing.  I think a holistic outlook on health, including skincare health and beauty, is important.

What is Acupuncture?

Here is a great summary of what acupuncture is and how it works:

Traditional  acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of natural medicine that dates back  approximately 5,000 years. It has developed from careful observation of the  workings of the body and how the environment affects it. The principle behind the  medicine is to view and treat the body, mind and emotions as a single unit,  working on the cause of the illness, not the  symptoms. In many countries it is a primary form  of health care; in the hospitals in China it  is used directly alongside Western Medicine.
Here is a simple analogy to get a basic understanding of how our body is viewed in Chinese Medicine: Think of the body as a complex system of water pipes which need to be in good health for     everything to work smoothly. When a blockage develops in a pipe somewhere it affects the workings of the entire system and generates symptoms. This is akin to what happens when an injury or     disease affects our body. These “pipes” which run all over our body are called meridians. The “water” which flows through them is named Qi (Chi). The Chinese mapped out these meridians over the course of almost a thousand years. By inserting a needle into specific points along these pathways, the blockages can be removed and harmony returned to the body. Whilst  several research studies are being performed to explain how Acupuncture works  in a Western Medical Framework, these scientists have not yet been able to  explain how it works exactly; however, they have provided solid evidence that  acupuncture does in fact work very well.

The benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine are:

• Drug-free pain relief without the side effects

• Boosts the immune system against disease

• Treats the cause as well as the symptoms

• Effectively treats many common ailments

• An all natural form of Medicine

• A good form of maintenance and prevention

• Can prevent chronic conditions from further deteriorating

 (Source:  Traditional Healing Acupuncture Clinic)

Facial Acupuncture 

How exactly does facial acupuncture work?  According to Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, one of the leaders in practicing and teaching facial acupuncture in the US, facial acupuncture is:

… a safe, painless and effective treatment for renewing the face as well as the whole body. Fine lines may be entirely erased, deeper lines reduced and bags around neck and eyes firmed.

Fine needles are placed at a variety of acupuncture points on the face, neck and around the eyes to stimulate the body’s natural energies, or Qi. Since muscle groups are addressed as well the acupuncture points, the face lifts itself, via the acupuncture points, through the muscles’ toning and tightening action. The needles also stimulate blood and circulation, which improves facial color.

Benefits

Constitutional:

  • Improves acne (caused by hormonal imbalance)
  • Helps menopause, perimenopause, PMS and other GYN issues
  • Helps sinus congestion and headache
  • Improves hyper- and hypothyroidism
  • Reduces symptoms of toothache, TMJ, trigeminal neuralgia, and Bell’s palsy
  • Helps headaches (except severe migraine)
  • Treats diarrhea and constipation (most digestive issues)
  • Helps to eliminate edema and puffiness
  • Benefits eyes, ears and brain
  • Can help insomnia and dizziness
  • Helps depression and aids self-esteem

Facial:

  • Improves collagen production and muscle tone
  • Helps reduce bags and sagging tendencies
  • Helps eliminate fine lines and diminish larger wrinkles
  • Helps reduce double chin and lift drooping eyelids
  • Improves metabolism
  • Tightens pores and brightens eyes
  • Increases local blood and lymph circulation
  • Improves facial color
  • Reduces stress and promotes total health and well-being

Short and Long-Term Effects of Facial Acupuncture

After the first treatment, one usually observes an increased glow to the complexion, the result of increased Qi and blood flow to the face. The person’s face appears more “open”, there is a clarity in the eyes (“clear Shen”), and the patient appears to be more rested; wrinkles start to lessen and the skin appears more toned.

A significant difference in their appearance can be ascertained following the 5th to 7th treatments; even more marked changes in wrinkles, skin tone, etc. The impression of relaxation and calm is more pronounced; they appear as if they have returned from vacation. Lifting of the jowls, neck and the eyes has begun and is usually noticeable. With continuing treatment, constitutional issues like digestive complaints have been ameliorated or subsided.

By the end of a series, the patient should look and feel 5-15 years younger. These results may vary slightly, depending upon how well the patient has taken care of themselves during the process, and afterward. At this stage, booster treatments provide ongoing support within a normal process of aging.

If you are interested in pursuing facial acupuncture as an anti-aging method be aware of the fact that there is quite an investment of time required to see results.  (This is true with any acupuncture treatments since Traditional Chinese Medicine works differently and more slowly usually than Western medicine techniques and medications).  Once again according to Mary Elizabeth Wakefield:

How Long is the Treatment?

Constitutional Facial Acupuncture™ involves the patient in an organic process, in which a series of treatments is necessary to achieve maximal effect. After an initial session, practitioner evaluates the patient’s response, and then can determine the number of follow-up visits that will be required:

After this evaluation, and taking into consideration other variables such as stress, diet, lifestyle, genetic inheritance, proper digestion and elimination, sleep, emotional balance, and age, the following durations of treatment are customarily recommended:

  • Usually 12-15 treatments;
  • 20 treatments for smokers or people whose skin tends to sag, i.e., who manifest jowls, “turkey wattles,” droopy eyes, etc.

It should be noted that age is not as crucial as might be estimated; an older patient with a healthy lifestyle may in fact have a better prognosis than a younger person who is prone to dissipate themselves.

Treatment Timeline:

  • 2 times a week (if possible), for 45 minutes to 1 hour; or
  • 1 treatment per week, 90 minutes

Maintenance Treatments:

Within the normal parameters of aging, the completion of a series of treatments should be effective. To ensure the persistence of the results, ongoing maintenance treatments are recommended:

  1. Every 2 weeks for 2 months following the completion of a treatment series, then once a month for an indefinite amount of time;
  2. Of course, the patient can also embark upon a subsequent series after a week’s respite

Cost of the treatments varies widely according to who you go to and where you live, but overall investing in this treatment could be less costly in the end than getting surgery or regular fillers and Botox (or both).

Of course not everyone is so gung-ho about facial acupuncture as an anti-aging cure-all:

Rhoda Narins, MD, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, says she thinks acupuncture has its place, especially as a pain reliever. But she doesn’t believe in it as a replacement for cosmetic treatments such as surgery, Botox injections, and the like. “Acupuncture doesn’t stop the muscle movement that creates lines,” she says. “Botox does.” Nor can acupuncture tighten or “fill” the skin as surgery or injectable fillers such as Restylane can.

Too many “extreme makeovers” on television are leading many of us to believe that a new look is a no-muss, no-fuss proposition. “That’s just not the case,” says Narins. “Changing your appearance is not something that should be taken lightly.”

(Source:  Acupuncture: The New Facelift?  WebMD)

If you feel that you want to try facial acupuncture you can find an acupuncturist through Mary Elizabeth Wakefield’s referral list.

Further Reading (and lots of first hand accounts from those who tried facial acupuncture):

Photo from skincarebeautyzone.com

 

How to Fix Your Aging Eyebrows October 6, 2011

Filed under: Aging,beauty — askanesthetician @ 5:30 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it again – having a well-groomed eyebrow makes a huge, positive difference in how you look.  But as we age our eyebrows change – they become sparse, the hair grays, or they become overgrown.

Luckily there are many quick fixes for all these issues.  If any of the above eyebrow issues sound familiar think about having a few products on hand in order to look your best.

Sparse Eyebrows:

As we age our hair can thin out.  If your brows have become sparse fill them in with brow powder.  Choose a color that either exactly matches your brow hair color or one that is slightly darker.  Use a small, stiff angled brush to apply the powder.  Be sure to tap your brush after dipping it into your brow powder so that you don’t apply too much powder then use short strokes to apply the powder to your brows.  If you feel like you overdid it take a spoolie brush or a disposable mascara brush and gently run it through your brows to remove excess powder.  You can also use a brow pencil to fill in your brows or a combination of brow powder and pencil.   You can set everything when you are done with brow gel – either tinted or clear.  One last tip – use Latisse to grow your brow hairs back in.  Just as Latisse makes eyelashes longer, darker, and thicker it will do the same for your eyebrow hair.  You can also try Rogaine on your brows for similar results.  One thing to keep in mind when it comes to Latisse and Rogaine is that they work on hair follicles that are still active; they will not work on hair follicles that have died.

Graying Brows:

Depending on how many gray hairs you have in your brows the technique you’ll use to cover them will vary.  If you have a few gray brow hairs consider using a brow marker, like TouchBack BrowMarker (there are many other products out there as well), to cover those few gray hairs.  Sometimes it is even enough to use tinted brow gel on your brows to cover the grays.  The most permanent solution for gray brow hairs is to have them dyed professionally either by an esthetician or a hairstylist.

Overgrown Brows:

Our hair can become long and coarse as we age making our brows look unruly.  The best solution for this is to trim your brow hairs.  Using a spoolie brush or a clean mascara brush push your eyebrow hairs up.  Use a small scissors to trim the ends off the hairs.  Brush the hair back into place to see if you trimmed enough.  Also brush the hairs down and then trim any that appear excessively long.  Once your brow hair lies flat again use a brow gel to keep it in place.  Trim your brow hairs as often as needed.

Source:

 

 
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